U Tennessee Experiments with Virtual Reality Classroom Delivery – Campus Technology
U Tennessee is experimenting with delivering lessons in virtual reality
Courtesy of the University of Tennessee
A fall 2021 capstone marketing course at the University of Tennessee, Haslam College of Business in Knoxville, used virtual reality as a regular delivery modality. Students in an experimental hybrid marketing strategy section attended both face-to-face and distance learning sessions, while another section was taught entirely face-to-face.
Students in the hybrid section used Oculus Quest 2 headsets to attend classes via the VR Spatial platform. While both sections achieved the same learning outcomes, the virtual reality classroom “absorbed the material to a higher level,” according to instructor Mark Collins, a prominent Haslam marketing lecturer and office manager of the college technology enhanced education. “Because it was so different, it made [students] focus and pay much more attention,” Collins said in a statement. He added, “The virtual reality student interaction and engagement is day and night compared to if we hadn’t met. only on Zoom. Part of that, I’m sure, is the fact that they’re an avatar, so they don’t feel that embarrassment.”
“Having an avatar makes the classroom experience personal and like we’re all in the room together, but also makes it less intimidating,” said marketing student Bridgette Liederbach. “Zoom sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable having my camera on and [unmute myself] because I know everyone will see my face on their screen, but using Spatial makes class conversation easier.”
Collins plans to use VR for virtual field trips in future sections of her course and has discussed with other Haslam faculty members the potential of VR for other courses.
“In all disciplines, there are times when we want students to understand something on a really deep and meaningful level, and we can use virtual reality to make that engagement and interaction happen,” he said. he declares. “I can see using it in a short, focused amount of time, to keep it really powerful rather than just becoming the new normal.”
About the author: Rhea Kelly is editor-in-chief of Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].